I don’t know if you have ever visited gardens on an “Open Gardens Day” well I have done so with the family on at least a couple of occasions. If you are nosy like me then it’s a good way of getting to see what people have done in different sized spaces and also gives me an insight into how they think. I love studying people and this is a good way of doing so.
Some gardens are very formal with plants laid out in neat rows and with the colours carefully co-ordinated. If gardens are an extension of people’s homes then one can easily work out the type of home that is attached to the formal garden! You know the house I mean where the carpets are cream and the paintings are all in matching frames and with a similar theme. Even their dogs can seem to be matching with their cream hair/fur and co-ordinating collar! The people who live like this are usually warm and friendly just like many of the others, but personally I can never relax totally probably due to the fact I prefer a more relaxed lifestyle.
The type of garden I like is the one where you never know what you will find and there are secrets to be discovered in every nook and cranny. Secrets like a beautiful little flower; perhaps a sun dial; a fairy door hidden amidst some trees or bushes; a little pool; with dragonflies and perhaps some tadpoles moving around desperately struggling in their battle to survive; a path curving backwards and forwards revealing yet more delights and sometimes a seat that invites you to sit and observe the small world around you.
Gardens are not just places to see treasures of all kinds, but to smell the intense or delicate scents from roses and other flowers; blossom; newly cut grass; the smell of freshness after rain; the unique smell of heat when the sun is or has been intense for a while and so many more to savour.
The sounds of the garden are many to those who spend the time listening carefully to its secret life. The obvious sounds of numerous birds singing; the wind rustling through the leaves and the whooshing noise it can make; the buzzing of bees and other insects, and the noises we ourselves make, as we become aware of our own breathing and almost become part of the harmony and music of the garden.
There are different textures to touch and experience; the softness of petals; the roughness of bark; the coldness of the pool; the smoothness of pebbles; the gentle sting of the rain on your upturned cheeks or the warmth of the sun on a face and hands; the brief pain at the sharpness of a thorn and the unique feel of different kinds of soil running through your fingers.
Yes a garden has so much to offer and perhaps so many needs to meet. We all have creativity within us, and for some our outside home is the release for that part of us. My son Ben and I have visited gardens and from it has sprung our idea to create our Bits and Pieces Garden. It is something that is developing and changing as we go along. There is no rush and we are trying to combine encouraging wildlife as well as growing vegetables and some fruit so we certainly don’t want to encourage slugs and snails! It already has its secrets – try and spot a little dragon sleeping while it guards a fairy door, and another door has an elf outside and a fairy to spot. An owl or two to find as well as a little black spider and a couple of lizards. Don’t forget to look for 2 little frogs which are very much alive and have found shelter underneath a half piece of pipe which was a half hearted attempt at a bug hotel. A slow worm took up residence during the early part of this year but has moved on as I am sure the frogs will, and take up residence in a neighbours pond. We also have ladybirds finding shelter in a bug house on the fence. We have some small solar powered lights that at night spread a warm glow when you look out from the house inviting you to go and see if the fairies are out and about! For the vegetables Ben has built 2 wooden frames to grow some in, and has painted them pink and blue so as to attract butterflies and other insects. The space is small and the soil poor; we have to make our garden with pots and pebbles but the fun, satisfaction and the spending time with Ben make it very worthwhile.
More updates will follow in the coming months.